Millions of Americans are missing out on the benefits of the emerging digital economy and government regulations are to blame, according to a report by public interest group iAdvance.
The report found that government regulations on data transmission have slowed deployment of the high-speed Internet backbone in the US, resulting in some areas of the country having no access to high-speed Internet connections.
According to the report, there are not enough backbone hubs being built to provide access to business and consumers outside of major population and financial centers. The report also lists the 12 states at highest risk of being left behind on the high-speed information superhighway, nicknaming them the “Disconnected Dozen.”
“The vast majority of Americans in inner cities and rural areas simply do not have access to the high-speed Internet and are unable to reap the full benefits of the digital economy,” said Erik Olbeter, co-author of the report. “While people and businesses in the ‘Disconnected Dozen’ states are at the most serious risk, without a significant increase in backbone deployment, this shortage is going to affect nearly every corner of the country.”
Those without access to backbone hubs must connect to the Internet with slower networks that cannot support the high-speed applications that are making their way into e-commerce, telemedicine, and distance learning.
The iAdvance report measured the effect of regulation on the deployment of Internet backbone hubs and found that government-imposed restrictions on the transmission of data are discouraging the installation of hubs. According to the report, without restrictions there would be more than twice as many hubs in the 46 states included in the study (2,149 as opposed to 984).
In the “Disconnected Dozen” states, the disparity between the number of actual hubs and the number of potential hubs is even larger, the report found. Arkansas, for example, currently has two hubs. The report predicts it would have 28 it data transmission was not regulated. New Hampshire, which has three hubs, might have as many as 42 were it not for regulation.
“While people in Silicon Valley and New York City can access the Internet through advanced networks that deliver broadband applications at tremendous speeds, people in Arkansas and New Hampshire, and other states in the ‘Disconnected Dozen’ must access the Internet through the digital equivalent of dirt roads,” said Olbeter.
In addition to Arkansas and New Hampshire, the “Disconnected Dozen” includes Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming.